10 Fixes for Overheating Laptops

Many PC laptops are poorly designed, causing them to overheat and turn off automatically to keep from becoming damaged. Here are a few possible fixes:

1. Remove Dust

Dust often forms around fans and air vents, reducing airflow and cooling. Start with a vacuum cleaner to pull out loose dust. Then blow out the remaining dust with a can of compressed air.

2. Keep Vents Open

Be sure to never cover the fans and air vents. The small holes under the laptop are needed for the components to properly cool. Placing a laptop on a pillow or bed will smother the vents and stop airflow. If you do use the laptop on a bed, carpet, etc, at least place it on a board or other smooth surface so that the laptop can use the designed airflow.

3. Raise the Laptop

Raise the laptop to allow more air to flow underneath. Don’t do this in a way that covers the air vents. For example, four rubber furniture raisers bought a hardware store will cheaply raise a laptop. For more cheap options, see the Lifehacker Top 10 DIY Laptop Stands.

4. Add Active Cooling

For more money, you can buy a notebook cooling pad such as the Targus Lap Chill Mat or Cooler Master Notepal U2. These raise the laptop and have fans which move air under the laptop.

With one customer, I needed to get the data off of a quickly overheating laptop so I placed it onto trays of ice. I placed a sheet of plastic over the ice to reduce humidity seeping up to the laptop. It wasn’t a long-term solution but was able to keep the laptop running for a few hours.

5. Download BIOS and Software Updates

Typically available from the laptop manufacturer, BIOS and OS driver updates can fix CPU and fan control problems.

6. Configure the BIOS

Check to see what BIOS options exist for the CPU and GPU. You typically get into the BIOS by clicking F1, F2 or ESC when you first turn the computer on.  Sometimes there are options to underclock the CPU or step down the processors.

Fan speeds and temperature alarms can sometimes also be set in the BIOS.

7. Configure Windows Power Options

Within Power Options (Control Panel – Power Options), you can set the laptop to run using less power for both the CPU and graphics card. This will slow down the computer but also lower its heat.

8. Install Monitoring Software

Speedfan is free Windows software allowing you to see the temperature of components. Knowing the CPU temperature can be helpful when trying to improve cooling. Depending on the system, Speedfan might be able to control and modify the fan speed.

9. Fix the Thermal Compound

The thermal compound between the CPU and heat sink is often poorly applied during manufacture. If you want to fix an overheating CPU and are adventurous, you can open the laptop, remove the CPU, clean it and the heat sink, apply new thermal paste, and put everything back together. This is not a simple process, even for people who do it regularly. But it can permanently fix some overheating computers.

10. Internet Search For Your Laptop Model

Particular laptop models are typically susceptible to the same problems. A recent customer has a Gateway M1625, commonly afflicted with overheating on the left side due to poor CPU thermal paste. Many Sony models were recently identified as having an overheating problem that Sony is fixing through software. A fix for your laptop might be found with a quick Internet search.

3D Video and Nausia

The Consumer Electronics Shows (CES) just wrapped up in Las Vegas and one of the main themes was 3D video coming to home televisions. Along with this, the big movie Avatar is being shown in many locations in 3D.

3D audience

While 3D adoption will grow, there are some problems such as having to wear silly glasses and the “depth of field”.

Depth of Field Problem

About 20% of the people I know who saw Avatar in 3D said that they felt nauseous or got a headache. This is primary due to a “depth of field” problem.

When you look at a close up object in the real world, you focus on it and things in the background are out of focus. You then look at something far away and then can focus on that clearly.

In 2D movies, the camera focuses on what is important and other items are out of focus, especially when there is a wide depth of field.

In 3D movies, our eyes expect to be able to look at an out-of-focus area and have it come into focus, just like in real life. But if it was shot out of focus, this is impossible. Further, the shallower the depth of field (meaning the more that the foreground and background are both in focus) the more cartoonish a video can look. This is a reason that cartoons, because they have no depth of field, work great with 3D.

An article at Shadow Locked explains How to avoid getting a 3D headache while watching Avatar. You have to look at what is in focus. See picture:

Avatar Background Blur

3D Does Work in Many Cases

For cartoons and sports, we do not expect to see a depth of field. And typically James Cameron shot Avatar with little depth of field. But, to the extent that depth of field is an important tool for movies, it will limit adoption of 3D movies for many people.

Harmony Remote Favorite Channel Icon Image

Harmony One Favorite Channel IconsIf you’ve got a recent harmony remote such as the Harmony One and have hard to remember 3 or 4 digit TV channels, setting up favorites can be very useful.  Then you just have to select the channel on the remote and the right numbers are sent.  To make things even prettier, you can define icons for each channel.

A great place to download icons is iconharmony.com.  The interface is a little strange but you can search for each channel icon image you want and select it.  Once you have selected each image you want, you can download them all in one zip file.  You use the logitech harmony remote software to define your favorite channels and browse files to assign the icons.